Green Plains Renewable Energy, the fourth-largest U.S. ethanol producer, said Tuesday it had a first-quarter profit on sharply better results from marketing and distribution.
The Omaha-based company said net income was $2.6 million, or 8 cents a share, from a loss of $12.7 million, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales were little changed at $765.5 million.
Green Plains, with nine plants in the Midwest and Tennessee, said the marketing and distribution unit had operating income of $13 million, from $510,000 a year earlier.
The unit sells ethanol from the company’s plants as well as the production of other ethanol producers. It also stores and blends ethanol with other substances and sells distiller’s grains, or the byproducts of ethanol production. The leftovers are used as livestock feed. The marketing and distribution unit also operates a fleet of leased railroad cars that are hired out for transportation of other commodities, such as crude oil.
Green Plains attributed the first-quarter results to “commodity trading and logistics, the railcar program and the Birmingham unit-train terminal,” an Alabama operation that can store 6.7 million gallons of renewable fuels. The company collects a per-gallon fee for storing ethanol for other companies that are moving it about the country awaiting end use.
Ethanol is made from grains such as corn and wheat and most commonly used as an additive to motor fuel. The company’s ethanol production unit had a loss of $2.3 million in the quarter, down from a loss of $13.8 million a year earlier. Ethanol production was 170,427 gallons, down from 175,771 gallons a year earlier. The company bought about 60,000 bushels of corn last year, little changed from a year earlier.
Green Plains was formed in 2004 and employs 529 people. The Omaha headquarters employs 95 people.
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